It seems National Investigation Agency (NIA) has fell prey of political stunt. The agency was formed to combat terror in India post 26/11. Even after 3 years of its formation it has no team or permanent office. The work procedure and rules have not been decided yet. Apparently P. Chidambram has not taken any step to strengthen its role. Certainly, this does not mean that the home minister is not doing anything.
Obtrusively, he engaged NIA, RAW and I.B in resolving economic crime in order to blame Pranab Mukherjee by claiming that his ministry is not able to stop money laundering through Hawala. Indeed this money is strengthening the terrorist groups. Every so often the Home Minister and Prime Minister reiterate that to break the terrorist organization it is necessary to weaken their economic sinews. Notably, since the formation of NIA noting and drafting has been done around eight times to come up with a special team. It was also proposed that the officials of the team would not be transferred to make them entirely responsible for any consequence. Moreover, an independent fund of NIA and special power to the officials above sub inspector to begin an investigation as per the emergency. Besides, there should be no time limit in investigation of terrorist cases. NIA must have the right to keep the guilty for 180 days instead of 90. It must have its own lawyers and courts for immediate decision of the cases. Infelicitously, none of these points were considered by P. Chidambram.
The centre pins its hopes on NIA to crack the Delhi Blast case but the government’s elite probe agency is struggling to get a proper office! The NIA has, in fact, complained to the Union home ministry that it increasingly finds it difficult to operate out of a commercial mall in south Delhi’s Jasola District Centre.The agency, which investigates terror cases, occupies two floors of Splendor Forum, a commercial mall, on a reported monthly rent of Rs.50 lakh. Keeping company with the sleuths in the six- storey mall are fast food outlets such as Café Coffee Day, branches of private banks such as HDFC and ICICI and also a Porsche office.
The NIA has told the home ministry that its sensitive investigation work warrants a proper office.The home ministry had been requesting the urban development ministry in vain to give the NIA space in the CGO Complex where the CBI was housed till earlier this year. An elite probe agency handling sensitive terror cases needs a proper office to work from a top home ministry. The sleuths faces difficulty working in the commercial mall, a virtual glass house sprawling over Rs.2.62 lakh square feet of retail area on the ground floor and office blocks on the upper ones.
Elevators stop working by 8 pm daily, making it difficult for the NIA officers to climb the stairs to the fourth floor office at night. Then there’s the issue of lack of privacy and security. The agency has 250 officers working out of the two floors; only officers have the luxury of sitting in tiny cabins. Some CISF personnels guard the office, as do private security staff. But the threat factor looms large given that the mall is visited by all kinds of people thronging retail chains.
The NIA has also complained that commuting between Jasola to central Delhi and the home ministry offices in North Block is a tortuously time- consuming affair.The agency is probing 30 crucial terror cases, including the recent Delhi High Court blasts, the David Coleman Headley episode, the Malegaon blasts in 2006 and 2008, the Samjhauta Express blast, the Mecca Masjid and the Ajmer blasts.
Home minister P. Chidambaram, while speaking in Parliament recently, credited the NIA for its exceptional record since its formation in 2009 to crack terror cases, saying it would soon rival the Scotland Yard and FBI in the quality of probes. The minister can make a start in the right direction by first shifting the NIA out of a commercial mall and giving the investigators a proper office to work.